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Government Gazette

I have full confidence in Sports Minister, says Nimal Lewke

I refer your attention to the article which appeared on your today’s edition “President Rajapaksa’s intervention sought”. In this article you have mentioned that I have said that we do not have faith in the Sports Minister. It is incorrect. At no stage I made a comment like that, as I have known the Minister for a very long time and even before he came into politics, I have full confidence in him.

However, what I mentioned was the committee appointed by the Sports Ministry comprising officials from the National Sports Council have failed to report the correct facts to the Minister.

For example, the officials who inquired into this were unaware of very important circulars issued by the Sports Ministry and I believe when you hold any inquiry they should be aware of the present rules and regulations that are governing Sports in Sri Lanka.

Regarding the appointment of a Captain, according to Ministry Circular MPRS/4/1/17 clearly indicates that Captain has to be appointed in advance and should obtain Minister’s approval which the Union did accordingly.

But the officials who were not aware of this basic requirement and they questioned the Union officials as to why they have appointed a captain in advance. Not only the captain has to be appointed in advance the circular says that captain should be consulted by the Selection Committee prior to the selection of the final team.

The idea of Sports Ministry appointing a Three-man Committee purely to get the correct picture to sort out this problem but what we have observed in their advice to the Minister is completely misleading.

Example, one of the officials who was a leading member of this committee former Sri Lanka CR & FC, Royal College player and former President of the Union had this to say about the appointment of the captain when interviewed by the Sunday Observer, 14th September 2008.

“Knowledgeable critics hail Dushanth Lewke’s appointment as Captain.” I quote “it was an excellent choice by the selectors to have picked the number eight for the job. He (Lewke) is an automatic choice for Sri Lanka and obviously guarantees his place in the side.

His playing too has improved over the years and at this stage of his career it will be a good challenge for him in Chinese Taipei leading our challenge in what promised to be a very competitive tournament” this official who has previously functioned in various capacities as Coach, Manager and Physio of the National Team opined that he fully backs the selectors’ decision to opt for Dushanth Lewke despite Lewke not having led the domestic club in his career. This talk of not being a Captain of a club to skipper the national team is not a big deal, as we can find ample examples from bygone era.

Take the case of Dr. Indrajith Kumaraswamy, who led the Sri Lanka at 1974 Rugby Asiad and then there was Lanil Tennekoon who went on to lead the National Team without even being Captain of a club team. So this is nothing to be surprised about and we need to give this lad all the courage and support for the team to succeed in Taipei.”

A person who made the above comments now gone back on his own statement and advising the Minister on some other line. Why he is doing this is a big question. Just one month ago he had the above to say as a responsible, trusted official of the Minister should give the correct picture as it is his prime responsibility to guide the Honourable Minister who had kept faith on him.

Furthermore, this is the same official who has supposed to have recommended the new Selection Committee to the Ministry and their names where never referred to the Union for their observations. There again Chairman of the new Selection Committee is directly working for business tycoon the trustee of the Kandy Sports Club and it is common knowledge that he is the Godfather of Kandy players.

This official was fully aware of these facts. There is another member in the new Selection Committee who is a Vice President of a leading A Division Club in Colombo and according to the sports law he cannot hold two positions as we believe that selectors should be independent.

You don’t need anymore evidence to prove that Honourable Minister is innocent and he has been completely misled by the officials of the National Sports Council, I am making this observation purely to enlighten the Minister, Ministry officials and Rugby fans the damage they have done to a young potential ruggerite and rugby football in Sri Lanka.

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